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..working towards the divorce of the UK and the EU...

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee March17th - 18th 2014

Brussels Commentary Employment Committee March17th - 18th 2014

This should have been a two day meeting, as it usually is, but it was cut down to just Tuesday morning. With the cancellation of the meeting scheduled for March 26th & 27th it makes the extra meeting held on Monday 10th March even more strange. As earlier reported that was from 7.00 pm at the start of a Strasbourg week when committees are not supposed to be held. So I rushed to get there, just in time to vote, when it could have been done in good order today.

However, a further comment about due process. Many of the votes in committee are by show of hands, with an electronic check if the President is not sure. The final vote, to approve or not, is always electronic. Each political group has a specific number of MEPs on each committee in proportion to total group numbers and, at the start today, the President took a check. We all pressed a key, revealing that both the Lib-Dems and the EPP each had one too many. One of each then withdrew their voting card from the machine but, in voting for various amendments, the same extra numbers re-appeared. Apparently, someone had defected from the Lib-Dems to the EPP, causing the problem. That is unusual but extra numbers have appeared before. This is easily corrected in electronic votes but what about a show of hands vote, ie the majority of votes? True, the President checks electronically if not sure, and MEPs call for checks, but I can't help thinking that sometimes a report goes through against MEP's intentions. Not a good way to make laws affecting all of us.

In the votes yet more money was gifted in the "Globalisation Adjustment Fund" for firms re-locating outside the EU. Much worse was a vote on giving the Commission authority to spend money from the, "European Aid Fund for the Most Deprived". That's not in the third world, that's deprived people in the EU. So they foul up the economies of Europe with their crazy Euro currency and then give the Commission a blank cheque to spend on the disadvantaged Europeans they created, without having to clear it with anyone!

I enjoyed the last vote where they are getting excited about the rights of Seafarers. The rapporteur, Licia Ronzulli, from Italy, took on the President, the formidable Pervenche Beres, a French Socialist. Ms Ronzulli complained that the president had mis-represented parts of the case. Never in the last five years have I heard anyone do that. About a year ago, after a debate in Plenary, the Commission indicated they would not accept the vote by Parliament to adopt a report sponsored by the Employment Committee. I asked her what she would do if the Commission maintained their position. This very positive lady's response was, "I shall take them to Court!"

However, back to today's Seafarers. Ms Ronzulli's further comments indicated that she herself, although the rapporteur, would not support this report, making a series of pungent points. This was opposed by a Spanish MEP, Ms Barandica, who argued the case for vehemently. Other MEPs took part, several raised voices at the same time, a committee divided as never before.

This was unfortunate for I had intended to speak. One of the results of this report would be that Ships approaching a foreign port would be required to fly the flag of the country whose harbour they were about to enter. But that is already done by way of ancient custom and as a courtesy. Why enforce that which is already happening and deny ship's Captains the courtesy of the seas?

On the other hand is the second objection to this proposal. This is that owners are to be given the right to sack ship's crew when they get to a foreign port. That too is an ancient custom but one which, I think, should be abolished, not cemented in law. How would anyone feel on being dumped in a strange place without a job, even in these days of seamen's institutes?

So, they propose to endorse the unacceptable but enforce that which needs no help. They have it all the wrong way round. I was going to speak accordingly but thought better of it as the bust-up got going. I did not want to distract from the row going on, still less did I want to give them a common enemy, that might have united them. So, my departure from the Employment Committee was silently to encourage discord rather than deliver a modest contribution of my own. After all, what do most of them know of ships, compared to one whose childhood playground was the Bristol docks.

Ah well, see you in a street somewhere soon, with an armful of leaflets.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg March 18th 2014          

Friday, 14 March 2014

Strasbourg Commentary Plenary session March 10th- 13th March 2014

Monday and yet another emergency Employment Committee Meeting, which is not supposed to happen in a Strasbourg week, see earlier commentary. Scheduled for 7.00 pm when my flight gets in at 6.30pm! Change flights when we only receive information few days ahead? Flight half hour late leaving Brussels anyway so got there with John champing at the bit, voting list in hand. After all that only three votes !! And they’ve now cancelled the next Committee meeting for March 26th.Why, we could have done all this emergency business in that meeting? Do you wonder that the EU is a complete mess? And that would have been my last committee meeting anyway, so I am denied a triumphal departure!!

Tuesday Massive voting list including plant seeds which they wish to regulate, for once thrown out with a call for the Commission to resign! Several reports on transport all of which will regulate your travel even more. Equality between men and women seems to have been defeated.

Then came Fluorinated greenhouse gasses and my “blue card question at its end. I would not have done that had I not been there to speak in the following debate.


The links below show my questions and I must say I have never before know anyone get two bites of the cherry. The rapporteur is a “Green” and I am still none the wiser from his answers. The other link is of my own offering on freedom of movement.

Now Tuesday evening is “Gadfly Dinner” evening, MEPs and assistants, and my speech was scheduled for 9.30pm but this slipped to 10.30. So I took a Parliament car to the restaurant with a booking to pick me up from there at 9.45 and just about finished main course. Finally spoke at 11.30 pm, and went back to hotel!

Wednesday We voted against an “Anti Missile shield for Europe” on the grounds that it will wind up Russia even more, not a good idea at the moment. The Marinescu report was passed against our vote 489 – 154 because it will not help Gibraltar, quite the reverse. Ditto the Sassoli report on air traffic services. The Mayer report was passed by 610 to 58 votes and that will hike up the cost of insurance for package holidays and so on. Have a nice day in the Costa del Sol!!

Also voted on Fluorinated greenhouse gasses, and freedom of workers. Both were adopted as was the vote on Russian gas which comes to Europe by way of the Ukraine which they now want to by pass. They also passed the report which will establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Sounds more and more like the French revolution, and you think I’m kidding?

Later my speech on the TROIKA.

See - http://www.ukipmeps.org/articles_814_Under-the-Rule-of-the-Unelected-Troika.html and was there in time to hear about 15 other speakers before me; they all rubbished the Troika, in no uncertain terms. How will the vote go?

Thursday A massive vote session conducted at such a rapid speed by the lady President that we got lost from time to time. The Zuber report on Equality between Men and women was defeated by 289 to 298. If you think that reflects the ratio of men to women in the chamber you may be right, but be it noted that we sometimes come under attack for allegedly exhibiting unhelpful tendencies towards women. Nonsense, “some of my best friends are… “

Also today the vote on the “Troika” to which I spoke on Wednesday evening where I remarked that many speakers rubbished the Troika, Surprise, surprise, the vote on it today did not reflect that in any way. There were many RCV votes, so you look it up yourselves, and the final vote was 408 to 135 in favour. Ah well!

Finally the vote on the situation in the Ukraine. We took the view that this is nothing to do with the EU, or the USA. I agree. We have interfered there before, remember the Crimean War. Ditto 3 times in Afghanistan, the Suez Crisis, Lawrence of Arabia …… where will it stop. We had a civil war of our own, who came to help in that to any real extent? So we got on and sorted ourselves out, result, a Parliamentary Democracy the envy of the world with which Europe is trying to catch but making the mistake of trying to short-cut, hence the mess.

See you in the campaign to preserve our democracy, by which, to quote Nelson, ”we shall save Europe too”.

Derek Clark MEP Strasbourg March 13th 2014